Incarcerated most of the day and night, I have had time to dwell on life more than usual. I began to ponder how life may change forever for many of us once this pestilence is over. I have assumed that no one near or dear has died in this pandemic. If they have then what I say is trivial and I apologise.
Since I work from home with my wife, staying at home is not strange. Nor is the lack of a commute, something that will change for us. But it will change for millions of people, and this transformation has astonished me. We are not a huge company, yet our IT team was able to arrange for all our hundred staff in our offices as far-flung as Shanghai, Frankfurt, Barcelona, Luxembourg, London, Limassol and New Delhi. They achieved this in just over a day even securing laptops at negligible notice. So, technology can be introduced at an astonishing pace when essential.
Necessity truly is the mother of invention. But we are not talking about invention; we are talking about just using what’s available. Believe, me we are our own worst enemies when we refuse to change where change is for the better. More of us will ask if I must be at the workplace when I could work from home, which is not available to everyone, of course. But in an economy that is 80% services, it can make sense for many. Employers and employees alike will be asking each other how I can add the most value rather than how can I be most present? What value does my commute add to my employer, me or the environment? Provided that we can trust each other in our work relationships, it is easy to see the improvements to our well-being, our economic efficiency and to the planet, if we answer these questions rationally.
I suspect our purchasing patterns will change irreversibly. The time we spend or waste traipsing round shops looking for things we are not sure we want or need saves us hours. Shopping must be one of the nation’s most popular pastimes. And the cathedrals of our times – Shopping Malls – like the cathedrals of the past, are empty. Instead, more and more of us will buy online and conserve this time. (Amazon, please stop wasting packaging and unnecessary deliveries) but the die is now cast for the high street.
Not being able to meet with our family and friends is a hardship. However, with the extra time on our hands, we are more regularly in touch via FaceTime, Skype and WhatsApp. Only a few years back this would have been unimaginably expensive for most. Since my children are in Namibia and London and we are in Cyprus, this is a godsend beyond measure. We received a call from our niece, whom we do not hear a lot from to ask us how we were faring. It is these little acts of kindness that we can all do that makes us all feel a tad better in this time of gloom.
However, we are not in Cyprus. When there were flights, the Cypriot government demanded a corona virus test that was unobtainium. Now there are no passenger flights permitted into the country. So, we are holed up in London until we can fly back home to a two-week stint in a hotel room with three contracted meals a day courtesy of the Cyprus government. With some of this extra time, I have learned new skills and returned to some books I have wanted to re-read. I have learned how to configure CRM systems and some Robotic Process Automation, both engaging in themselves and which I plan to use more widely in my work.
Last, I have been thinking of some side hustles to keep me occupied in the retirement that I have promised my family but not yet felt it was time to hang up my boots. So far, I have about eight ideas, that need whittling down and, hopefully, will provide another interest to keep myself stimulated and fresh. So, life has changed temporarily and, I am sure, permanently for me and many. Many others. I hope you are all keeping safe and let’s meet when this catastrophe is over.